The Tech Belt Energy and Innovation Center (TBEIC) announced a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) in August, Rick Stockburger. We learned more about Stockburger and his new role, the future of TBEIC, and the relationship between VGV and the Mahoning Valley.
Stockburger’s career began in 2010 when he founded his own media company focused on urban revitalization and the people who make it happen. Rick was inspired by the entrepreneurs that work hard every day, not only to the benefit of their company, but also to make the community a better place.
Stockburger’s career continued when he founded a nonprofit called Launch League, a community for scalable startups in Akron. Rick realized that one of the ways to really make an impact is by assisting those high potential companies that can scale quickly.
Rick started his new position at TBEIC as COO in August. “I was able to come in and be a part of something that was already established. All of the hard, backend work was done.” When Rick asked about what attracted him to join TBEIC, he replied “It was an opportunity to take something that has been constructed to the next level. It was a project that was ready to grow and to scale. And, I was looking specifically for an opportunity that could have a huge impact on the community.”
Where do you see TBEIC in the future?
“Our next big project is building a shared resource lab to do energy testing. We are very fortunate to have both state and federal partnerships to build this testing lab. We have already started to purchase some of the equipment. It’s a really exciting time. We are able to build something that will help make the organization sustainable in the long term, and will be a great draw for companies from outside the area.”
Rick believes that in the future, companies will come to the new facility to do testing that they can’t do anywhere else in the world. He sees TBEIC as an economic driver for the city of Warren and the state of Ohio. A great current example is that TBEIC is building a relationship with the city of Warren to be able to do water testing for wastewater and advanced materials companies that are associated with the incubator.
What are your thoughts about the role that VGV can play in the region?
“I can’t think of an organization that is better suited to lead the charge on raising capital for companies. VGV’s approach to investing is great. It gives entrepreneurs access to capital in the Valley that they just did not have. One of the things that will move these companies forward is having access to capital and being able to be tie into this network with YBI, TBEIC and all the strategic partners. It is something that is unbelievably important.”
How do you view VGV and TBEIC partnership?
“We have an extremely close partnership. It is one of those things that are a huge asset to the work that we are doing as we are trying to draw companies to locate in Warren. Being able to say that we have one of the premier venture funds right here in the Valley and that we have access to capital has a huge impact. I’m excited to see how VGV can shape and model the future of the Mahoning Valley."